Happy July 4th everyone! As America celebrates our annual salute to Independence, I cannot help but be mindful of the confusing state we find ourselves in 2020. A pandemic that won’t go away, riots and anarchy that seem to be growing in intensity and frequency along with a Sahara Dust Plume shadowing our land has prompted me to ponder the meaning of liberty and freedom. We Americans cherish our right to individual liberties, but I fear the failure to righteously exercise those freedoms sows the seeds of our demise.
To many Americans, our freedoms are just the right to do whatever we want. We proudly contrast the noble American experiment of a democratic republic to the oppression witnessed in totalitarian regimes. But I hope we can all agree that we are a principled but still flawed Republic. As one commentator recently opined, “freedom is rarely viewed as an opportunity to serve others…….might it also be prudent to deplore the unchecked, unthinking, and often self-centered understanding of freedom that occupies many Western societies and systems. We are called to freedom, freedom for others–and not simply as the individualistic pursuit of self-interest. Rightly understood, freedom is grounded in love for the sake of one another.” (1)
The self-indulgent use of freedom prompted author Paul Yancey to ponder in a Christianity Today article, is it any wonder that those living in Islamic countries might equate the Western version of freedom with decadence? (2) Ouch!
These comments remind me of the words of Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:13-14, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Over 200 hundred years ago, John Adams, our second U.S. President, pointed out the necessity of faith and morals to the survivability of the new Republic when he said, “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
To my fellow Americans in this “Sweet Land of Liberty,” and the “Land of the noble free,” I encourage you to reflect on the meaning of freedom, the cost our country has paid to achieve it, and the challenge it will be to keep it. To further foster such patriotic contemplation, I thought I’d share with you a collection of citations.
As readers of this blog may recall, I am a collector of quotes. This master list will ultimately find their way into a bound collection for my grandchildren. I sort my collectible quotes into themes, and one of those categories is Freedom. Why? For many of us freedom-loving Americans, we fail to realize how fragile this thing we call Freedom really is. We take it for granted. Much like oxygen, we don’t think about it until it’s no longer available. I find it helpful to periodically refresh my spirit with the sage advice of those who have gone before us. And holidays like the 4th of July serve to remind us, hopefully, that Freedom isn’t free, nor is it an excuse for a self-indulgent lifestyle.
TheBuddyBlog.com wishes you a Happy 4th and hopes these Freedom Truth nuggets help you to cherish this Independence Day.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“Whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision-stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this government cannot last.” From a speech given by Lincoln before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838 in response to the attack and murder of an abolitionist.
Erma Bombeck, American Humorist
“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
Michael J Novak, Theologian, Thinker, Author
“During the next hundred years, the question for those who love liberty is whether we can survive the most insidious and duplicitous attacks from within, from those who undermine the virtues of our people, doing in advance the work of the Father of Lies. ‘There is no such thing as truth,’ they teach even the little ones. ‘Truth is bondage. Believe what seems right to you. There are as many truths as there are individuals. Follow your feelings. Do as you please. Get in touch with your self. Do what feels comfortable.’ Those who speak in this way prepare the jails of the twenty-first century. They do the work of tyrants.”
Chuck Colson, Founder of Prison Fellowship
“People have got to be able to govern themselves to practice self-restraint before they can rule themselves via an elected government.”
Will Durant, Renowned Historian
“From barbarism to civilization requires a century. From civilization to barbarism needs but a day.”
“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”
Robert J. McCracken, Scottish-born Professor of Systematic Theology
“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.”
Charlton Heston, Actor
“Political correctness is tyranny with manners.”
“The God who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government. So let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution, so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”
Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the USA
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Davy Crockett (played by John Wayne in the 1960 Movie “The Alamo”)
“Republic. I like the sound of the word. Means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat. Same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step or his first baby shaves, makes his first sound as a man. Some words can give you a feeling that makes your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.”
Billy Graham, American Evangelist
On honoring the nation: “The Bible says: ‘Honor the nation.’ As a Christian, or as a Jew, or as an atheist, we have a responsibility to an America that has always stood for liberty, protection and opportunity.”
On commitment to American ideals: “Today, I call upon Americans to raise your voices in prayer and dedication to God and in recommitment to the ideals and dreams upon which our country was founded. Let’s dedicate ourselves to a renewal of faith in God, equality, justice and peace for all. Let’s dedicate ourselves to building rather than burning.”
On putting patriotism in its proper place: “The Bible tells us God has a standard for men and nations and that His standard must be met. It is right and proper to honor our country, to rejoice in her liberties and to sing her praise. But this can be abused when we make it a substitute for God. We honor America but we do not worship her.”
On humility and patriotism: “We have stood tall in America in most areas, but on this Independence Day I call upon Americans to bend low before God and go to their knees as Washington and Lincoln called us to our knees many years ago. No nation is ever taller than when on its knees. I submit that we can best honor America by rededicating ourselves to God and the American dream.”
On the ultimate freedom: “Freedom in Christ is the ultimate freedom to be celebrated not only on special days, but all year around.”
So, how do you define true freedom?
Margaret Manning Shull, “Toward Freedom”, A SLICE of Infinity Commentary, June 29th, 2020.
Philip Yancey, “A Living Stream in the Desert,” Christianity Today, November 2010, 30-34.
Photo by Kristina V on unsplash.com